Ok…I want to start off by saying…go find all of those timeline lists you collected from the internet, magazines, and wedding planning books, tear them up and throw them in the garbage or fireplace. Go. Do it now. I’ll wait….
Ok? Got rid of all of them? Awesome!
Wondering why I would tell you to get rid of every timeline you had?
Because they are almost always American and don’t reflect the current, local wedding industry and market! They are based on different state laws, market saturation, and let’s be honest…are totally outdated.
And here we are, left with the burning question, when should we book our vendors to ensure we get the ones we want for our big day?
That’s easy! Book us now. If the vendor of your dreams who totally gets your vision and you have a connection with is available for the date and time you want – don’t end the conversation before you have paid the deposit and have your name in their book. Don’t assume they don’t have a lineup of couples trying to book the same date and time! In this day and age, the couple who pays their deposit first gets the vendor they want. I’ve had weekends where every couple that comes to me is looking for the same date and time, and the one who books first gets me – you have competition. And you thought finding a husband was hard!
Last year in the Spring a lovely bride came to me asking for something very specific. An ancient Scottish handfasting. The kind that is done with the tartan sash. She explained it to me and told me she was having the hardest time finding anyone who even knew what she was talking about. Did y’all know I’m Scottish? And married to a Scottish man? Like not oh our great great grandparents were from Scotland…I mean we were both born in Scotland to Scottish parents and brought here as children. We are *that* Scottish and when we got married, we did the Big Fat Scottish Wedding. There were kilts, and swords, and pipers, and whisky, and Gaelic spoken, and….an ancient Scottish handfasting done with the tartan sash! The bride and I talked about it with much excitement! What were the odds that she would stumble upon an Officiant who not only knew what she was talking about, but who had actually had the exact same ceremony at their own wedding?? Zilch I tell ya….til she found me.
I really thought it was a done deal and figured this exchange would end with her sending the deposit and me getting all of the paperwork prepped for her.
But no. She told me she needed to speak to her fiancé. Fair enough. I gave her a couple of days and checked back in. Here’s a marriage secret ladies…most of the time, the guys don’t really care about the wedding details. They just want to get married (to you!) and haven’t spend their lives dreaming of the tablecloths and flower arrangements. They love you. They want to marry you. They go along with it all because they know you want them to care. But mostly, they aren’t fussy about most of the wedding planning process and you can likely go ahead and safely choose most of your vendors and ideas (like colours, flowers, officiant, bartenders, makeup artists, hair stylists etc) on your own. Trust me on this one – it’s lovely that you get them to come to every meeting and call – and they would be just as happy to stay home. I’ve met a LOT of grooms and we have these conversations. I often have grooms booking me and they just get on it with and are happy to cross their one job off their list. Anyhoo…back to our Scottish bride…
It took her 3 weeks to get back to me.
Any guess how many weddings I book in the course of 3 weeks? In February I booked 8 weddings in 8 days and that was just one week! Imagine how many I booked over that 3 week period….and when she finally replied, so thrilled to be booking me…her date and time was gone. I offered her a different time slot for the same day, but she was set on the time she wanted and had booked all of her other vendors around that time, never making sure she would actually be able to get married at that time. Her search had to be started from scratch and I have no idea if she got the ceremony she wanted, led by a full fledged Scottish Officiant.
The lesson here is…don’t let the vendor of your dreams slip through your fingers by taking for granted they will still be available when you come back weeks later. If you like it…put a ring on it.
Even if you aren’t engaged and know it’s coming…start the conversations with the vendors you love and give them the heads up, find out if they are available on your date of choice, and ask if they will honour their current rates and prices when you come back to finalize your booking. You also want to find out what the required deposits (or first instalments) will be so you can start setting that money aside now.
One of my brides knew the ring was coming but had no idea when. She contacted me and her fave photographer months in advance of her engagement to lock us down so when her man finally proposed, she knew the most important vendors were already booked and ready to get to work. Yes she picked a date and location, and since her fiancé had no clue a wedding usually doesn’t come together in a few weeks, he now gets to go along with her plan. Done and dusted!
In January (honestly it starts on Boxing Day) I get dozens and dozens of couples contacting me asking for their dates for that year. They just got engaged at Christmas and are now looking forward to getting married in June.
Just one problem.
Everyone who got engaged the previous Christmas booked all the June dates and 4pm slots the moment the ring, and proposal, were accepted. They planned 18 months in advance.
Now you have some decisions to make.
Do you find a different vendor? Pick a different date? Choose a different time?
It’s shocking to me how many people will spend weeks and weeks in frustration trying to find an Officiant who is available on their date and time, who is willing to let them do XYZ at their ceremony, fits the budget, has lots of experience, is personable, has great reviews and social media presence, and looks good, rather than do one simple thing….
Be flexible with the ceremony start time.
I am always willing to squeeze couples in. I get it, you want to get married this year – but not everyone can have the 4pm slot. Your chances of getting the best Officiant (can we all agree that’s me?) go up dramatically when you work with their schedule rather than being unflexible with the time you’ve had your heart set on. Usually it’s a simple matter of wiggling 30 minutes in one direction or the other and you can get the Officiant you want.
And please….I’m begging you…don’t print your invitations until AFTER you have booked your Officiant! Trust me on this one – I’ve comforted sobbing brides who can’t find anyone to go along with the time listed on the invitation and that’s not the kind of stress anyone needs when they are getting married!
Ultimately, the key is to remember wedding vendors get booked 1-2 years in advance – last year someone tried to book me for 3 years in advance – and the prime dates get filled quickly! So get us booked now! And if someone says yes…lock them down! Start with your venue, make sure they have your date and time open, then check with your Officiant, and book them both on the same day. This way, if your officiant isn’t available at the exact time you were thinking, you can be flexible and it’s an easy change for the ceremony time.
After that’s done, breathe a sigh of relief and start working on the rest of you list. If you need recommendations just let me know and I will tell you who I have worked with and what they are like!